NTT DoCoMo looks to go global with Buongiorno bid

Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo has placed an offer to acquire all shares in Italian mobile internet content and apps provider Buongiorno for €224m.

The bid has already gained partial acceptance as Mauro Del Rio, owner of approximately 20 per cent of the company’s stock, has entered into an undertaking with the operator’s German arm, DoCoMo Deutschland, to tender all of his shares for the offer.

DoCoMo said that the acquisition will combine its own innovative mobile business and services know-how in Japan, where its i-mode content business has been hugely successful, with Buongiorno’s advanced mobile technologies and extensive global customer base.

“As part of expanding the businesses of both companies, DoCoMo expects to strengthen the foundation of its mobile platform businesses overseas,” the firm said in a statement.

Guillermo Escofet, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, explained that NTT DoCoMo had tried to replicate the success it had in Japan with i-mode offering to operators abroad, around six or seven years ago. However, it failed to do so due to a lack of handsets on the market that were pre-installed with the necessary software and although DoCoMo had a huge ecosystem of content in Japan, there was enough of it that was internationalised and localised enough for the different markets thaty it was targeting.

“i-mode remains the single most successful example of mobile content offering, as DoCoMo had its Eureka moment 12 years ago and created a brilliant ecosystem for mobile content in Japan,” Escofet explained. “When it tried to replicate that abroad, it just didn’t work.”

He added that Buongiorno is a traditional mobile content aggregator, and along with Spanish-owned Zed, one of the only two successful survivors from that mobile entertainment space in Western markets.

“A lot of companies in that space have gone bust, diversified into different directions and got rid of their content aggregation services or have been snapped up by bigger players. Buongiorno has acquired other players in that space and grown as a result,” explained Escofet.

He added that NTT DoCoMo’s German subsidiary conducting the acquisition offer makes sense as The Japanese and North-East Asian markets are very different to European and global markets, when it comes to content.

“The acquisition of Buongiorno looks like NTT is trying again to have some international presence for its offering and expand beyond its borders. Japanese mobile market is like the Galapagos islands in that it is a market that has developed and followed very much its own path. It’s a very successful path but now NTT is trying to expand abroad.

“Japan and North-East Asia are quite unique and have developed in a unique way, but Buongiorno has links with operators all over the world, as well as a vast direct-to-consumer presence with all of the brands it has it operates through in different territories,” Escofet said.

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